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Recap: 1st Trainer Session Today

Ok it isn't my first trainer sessio ever. I did the onece that came when I joind Planet Fitness a few years ago.  And about 2 years ago I did 4 sessions with a Crossfit trainer (this was super helpful, I learned proper form on the rower, squats and how to dead lift. And push press.  And a few hard workouts to do with no equipment in a hotel room).  I realized Crosfit was a little too hard core for me.  Like the concept, but it wasn't a perfect fit.

So this time around I wanted a trainer to help me build some a few strength training routines for the gym, show me some new full body exercises, and you know push me to try harder and stuff.

So I had my first session at a private gym in the next neighborhood over.  The trainers are a motley crew there.  The woman I worked with looked super young. She didn't tell me her age directly, but I am 6 years younger than her way younger sister.  :D  I though she was maybe 7 years older than me.  (I give people bonus years since I look young.)

So here is what I had to do:

I did a couple minutes to warm up on the treadmill.  The treadmill is like a torture device for me.  Definitely my least favorite cardio machine. We were chatting, she is a trainer and an EMT.  Good rapport.

Then the fun started.  First she wanted to do a little test with medicine balls.  I did a couple of rounds of walking pile squats across the room holding a small medicine ball.  It didn't feel so bad then, but now I am feeling it.  

One of the goals I told her about was my pushup one, so I did an attempt at pushups, and made it to one and a half.  So the next thing we did was walking planks across a mat.  That was totally hard. At each end of the mat I did a small press, like a quarter pushup.  Such a good challenge.

Then it was the crab walk.  This was hard in lots of ways, but my wrist has been sensitive lately, so we abandoned these for pushups on a rail.

Next up was the really evil part.  The upper body work with dumbbells.  Today I was already a little sore in my chest from something yesterday so I knew this would be extra hard.  So I laid on a thick foam roller, lengthwise across my spine.  And then did 2 sets of chest presses, skull crushers, another tricep extensions,  and something else.  That was tricky, dealing with chest fatigue and keeping my balance on the roller!  Tricky tricky!

Then it was back to the lower body.  bicep curls while stepping on to a step. Hammer curls with wall squats.  And then one legged squats on the step.  I was feeling the burn then!  

I know I am forgetting something, but I ended with 2 lower ab exercises.

And this wrapped up the "Assesment" session.  She was impressed!  She said I had good form, did lots of advanced moves, and made it through the exercises without long rests.  I guess my circuits are paying off.  :D

My soreness started to kick-in by the afternoon.

All in all a good workout.  The only problem....not sure what muscles will be available for my planned trip to the gym tomorrow for some cardio. I know for certain the rower is out -- my upper body is sore.

Session 2 is scheduled for next week. I think that in a month, I am going to see some huge results.  I don't think I am seeing them now, but soon! 

Checklists are your friend

This year, I started working with a new client at work (I work for a consulting company).  It is a really good opportunity, but the project has been doing all kinds of stuff I am not really good at. I have been working on a project with a lot of moving parts, and I am in the home stretch of finishing it.

As I was checking my work today, I noticed I forgot to update a few items.  We have gone through a few iterations of this project deliverables, and about a month ago a had a huge list of changes and updates.  Since it was complicated, and the type of thing I am not good at, I saved my checklist of all the details and changes.  It came in handy today, because I didn't have to go back and dig into the completed items to figure out what I did 4 weeks ago. :)

A while ago, I saw this great article about how checklists improve hospital performance, and patient outcomes.  The key takeaway is that, everyone does better when you have a list of goals/tasks to check off along the way, and to make sure you have done everything you need to.  Even doctors at the top of their profession benefit from a surgery checklist.

The same thing is true for improving your health and fitness.  My friend Hungry_Tuna has a great blog post up today with her list of goals and her plan to be consistent with applying them.

I think the real reason checklists are so effective is that we all love the feeling of accomplishment we get when we check an item off our to-do-list or mark-off one of our goals.

My challenge this week is to come up with my health checklist, and find a prominent place to put it so I can track my progress.  And have a visible reminder of how far I've come and where I am headed. I'vehad a few posts with goals, but now I need to integrate tracking the progress against it in my daily life.  :D

So what's on your health and fitness checklist?



10 Minute Workouts

This week is going to be annoying with no time to go to the gym.  I saw these 10 minute workouts I'd like to try:

Maybe this week I'll try a tabata!  Hopefully I can get all three of these in one of these days.  What are your favorite quick workouts?


Why did I start my journey now?

For anyone who has known me for any length of time, I have never complained about my size (other than bra size!) and it wasn't really on my radar at all.  But as I started to think about things a bit more, and as the media started harping on the obesity epidemic more and more, I decided to re-evaluate how I felt about myself and my weight.

Up until recently, it wasn't causing any problems.  And to date my only "weight related" health problem is super heavy periods. And this could be caused by weight or hypothyroidism.  My blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar are normal or low.  In fact, my doctor never commented on my weight at all.  It wasn't causing any problems. She encouraged me to eat more iron, take my vitamins, and do some daily activity.  Hardly "dire straights."

I've been eating fairly healthy for a while now. I already swapped most of my white grains for whole grains.  I started using olive oil 10 years ago as my daily oil.  I exceed 5 a day and eat my 20 grams of fiber.  I stopped buying most processed foods.  I subscribe to a CSA to make sure I get plenty of produce.  I shop organically and locally at my farmer's markets. Most years my friends and I do a 10K fundraising walk or two for fun.  I am hitting all of the checkboxes here.  

And I started realizing my appearance didn't really match up with my habits.  I mean there are so many stereotypes about overweight people.  That we all must be shoveling down McDonald's cookies, ice cream and diet coke all day.  That we must refuse all forms of daily activity and park in the closest parking spot at the store.  You know what all of these stereotypes about being lazy and not caring about your health are.  And I wondered "hey are people assuming that about me?"  It isn't true at all.  

So by this time next year (or sooner), the person on the outside will match the healthy habits I have already established.  :)   

Get out of your own way (weigh)

The hardest part of making any major life change is dealing with your brain.

How many times have you heard one of the following?

  • "I love my job and my co-workers but I have been passed over for promotions/challenging projects/underpaid compared to my peers and should start looking for a new opportunity, but it is so hard to find one."
  • "I really want to take up a this new activity: dance/running/knitting/school/cooking/whatever but it is so impossible to get started/hard for beginners....."
  • "I tried to lose weight/lost weight last year/decade/whatever and I gained it all back when I slacked off on my diet/exercise/got busy."

Sometimes we sabotage ourselves from reaching our full potential. I know we all have friends here on MFP who start their journey super gung ho, exercising 2 hours a day 7 days a week, cutting out all sugar/processed foods/treats/meat/soy/solid food/cooked food based on a few success stories or perceptions of success. Inevitably the burn out for a few days, or after a few weeks and say "weight loss is impossible." And then retreat back into old habits.  

So here are my ideas on how to prevent self-sabotage, no matter where you are in your journey and how to stop getting in the way of your own success.

1.  Start small, don't change everything at once.  I know I have a very short attention span, so breaking off my goals into smaller chunks makes it easier to keep up with them.  I know that it will probably take me 9-12 months to reach my goal, and that is a long time from now!  So what kind of goals can I have for each month or 6 weeks of the journey.  So by the time I reach that goal, it'll be time for the next one.  I can keep my focus for short bursts, so this helps me stay on track.  The goal may be exercise, diet, strength training or daily activity or a combination of all 3.  There have been a few studies that say it takes 3 weeks to build a habit, so focusing on one behavior for 3 weeks will help it stick and become permanent.  

2.  Make changes that can be permanent lifestyle changes.  I like birthday cake, cocktails, french fries, burgers, pastries, cookies and everything else.  Between now and turning 100 there will be plenty of opportunities to partake in these, and I am not going to give them up for life, so I need to learn now how to incorporate them into my life in a healthful way (Moderation, moderation, moderation).  If I plan to have a scone or some other treat, I budget for it for the rest of the day.  So scone for breakfast means salad for lunch.  And I'll skip the cookies after dinner.  Having cocktails?  Maybe an extra intense session at the gym or later in the week will help to account for that if it isn't in my caloric budget that day.  The boy scouts were on to something, "Be Prepared;" whether this means planning healthy dinners for potluck week at work, bringing your own snacks when the only available food choices will be unhealthy, or scheduling in a little bit more exercise for a big treat.

3. Slip-ups do not mean throwing in the towel completely.  We all have bad days and over indulge.  Get back on track on your next meal, and don't let it derail you permanently.  Your success is determined by what you do 80% of the time, not those occasional slipups.  

4.  Mix it up and try something new.  Supposedly plateaus are caused by your body getting used to your routine.  Maybe it is your body's way of telling you it is bored. Try a new approach to your exercise, a new activity, a new macro-nutrient mix or a new recipe.  There is no rule that says successful weight loss means eating salad and chicken all day every day.  (And ask your friends what they are doing, chances are they are doing something new you haven't tried yet. Or you can commiserate together.)

5.  Celebrate your successes big and small.  Remember how happy you were in elementary school when you got a gold star for writing your name in cursive, helping your neighbor with their homework, getting a good grade on a pop quiz or helping out the teacher.  Give yourself a gold star for your own success, on the scale and off (NSV: non-scale victory).  The rewards can be literal gold starts, new clothing, signing up for a class, a pedicure, a massage, a new magazine of something else you enjoy.  Just keep track and note these successes, positive reenforcement encourages success.

Share your tips to avoid self-sabotage in the comments!


Music is my motivation

I decided to hit the gym at lunch time today.  Since it is midday, I walked because finding parking at the my downtown gym is annoying.  (It is about 1.25 mi). 

It was really packed, the rowers were taked the whole time I was there and I had planned to do some rowing sprints.  Oh well.

I decided to up the weight on the seated row.  I moved it to 125#.  (Last workout I wa at 110#).  This was the right decision, my 3 X 10 was really tough, the 110# took around 15 reps to feel like I was challengining myself.  But I think it wore me out for the rest of my upper body sets.  Well either that or doing the tricep extension with 3 sets starting at 12 reps of 30#, 10 reps of 35# and 8 reps of 40#.  That was super tough.  When I got to the lat pulldown, I tried to up it to 120#, that felt like too much so I went downt to 110# and 100#.  

Since the rowers were taken, I went over to the elliptical to do some sprinting intervals.  For my past couple workouts, I have been feeling too exhausted to do sprints, so I did hill climbing intervals instead. Today my legs felt tired and heavy and I was thinking "am I really going to make it through 20 minutes?"

And then my ipod shuffle saved the day and played:

  • Come Dig It by Machel (hello high school)
  • Good to Be Alive by DJ Rap (hello college)
  • I've Been Thinking About You by London Beat (hello middle school)
  • El Matador by Los Fabulous Cadillacs (hello college)

And I was able to push through and pick up the pace.

So the next time you are feeling slow, or unmotivated...change your soundtrack.  :D

Oh and here are the links to those songs if you are interested.



Need some kettlebell workouts?

Thought I'd share a couple of links:

I did the women's health one today (with a few minor modifications) with a 15# kettelbell.  This mostly feels like the right weight, but I subbed a dumbell for the windmill.  That was way too heavy for me. I struggled with the deadlift, it was just too light for me.  I'll continue to experiment and keep you all posted.

Thoughts about weight loss and your mental journey

I saw this post on Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss about how when you lose weight you also lose part of your identity (this is one of my favorite health blogs, clean eating tips, recipes, commentary on health and lots of good stuff, definitely check it out) and it was really thought provoking.

For many of us losing weight is shedding a security blanket and a part of they way you define yourself.  How many people know the "funny fat girl" or the "boisterous chubby girl" or even the extra personable one.  Or other people work really hard to develop a talent: stellar grades, personal style, singing voice, musical ability.  And the others retreat more.  Sometimes we adopt these "loud" traits to help get noticed when sometimes people who are overweight are deemed invisible.

I have never really considered if being overweight plays a role in my personality and identity.  I was always a little larger than my peers from elementary school on.  I don't remember getting picked on about it. I think some boy commented once, and then I beat him at mercy and that was the end of that.  That is pretty much the only thing I remember.  I always got picked on more for other stuff: wearing glasses, having a high pitched voice (raise your hand if you hate your voice!).

Being bullied was infrequent for me, and I had a good attitude about it.  Maybe 1 or 2 comments in elementary school  In middle school it was more frequent, and I realized those people were stupid.  By then,  I started calling them on their stupidity and it stopped pretty fast after that.  I think people had initially assumed that because I was soft spoken, I was a pushover.  Once they found out that wasn't true, they moved on to another victim.

And by my teens, my identity became something along the lines of the smart, nice girl that everyone liked.  I knew everyone. Didn't really have any enemies.  Somehow I am really memorable, more people knew of me than I knew of them.  I have never felt like being overweight has hampered me or people treated me different. I have always made friends easily, and one of my key traits is likability.  But I don't really know. Maybe things would have been really different if I was smaller.  It never impacted my quality of life.

Like most women who developed early. you start having to put up a bit of shield because of unwanted attention. I started putting up a bit of a wall in public, when sketchy old guys started hitting on me.  And I am sure this shaped my style (I am pretty conservative) because I really hate people staring at my chest.

And thinking about it, I realize that as I lose, it is safe to say more people will notice me.  This will feel a little strange.   I haven't ever been my goal size, only 2 sizes larger.   As it stands today, I get comments on something like skin tone or smile a couple times a week.  I just brush it off, as unwanted comments are so common.  I can go somewhere twice, and the people remember me and start calling me a regular.  Even if I haven't bought anything.  When I go shopping with my sister, she thinks I am a shopaholic because all the workers know me.  :D  Too many old guys hit on me, I wish they would advise the ones that are my age.  

I have never thought of myself as pretty, I think "cute" is a much better description, but I have been having some good photo days lately (and everyone else seems to notice too).  Watching the video in the post, about the woman who went into modeling after losing weight and she struggles with seeing pictures or a beautiful woman and recognizing that as her, I could totally see that.  And I kind of wonder, what if I don't recognize myself in the mirror at some point?

My identity has always been something like the nice, smart, bubbly social butterfly.  Are people going to see me as something else if I am smaller?  Or are more people going to notice the person I have always been?  Are you guys struggling with this too?

200 Squats Works

So many of my MFP friends know I am in the home stretch of the 200 squats program (week 5 is progressing slowly!)

 I am doing this challenge, because I know how I am.  I like to start something and fiish it quickly.  My journey is going to take at least 10 months to get to goal, so I need mini projects along the way.  And saying I can do 200 squats seems like a cool factoid.

Well today, I actually noticed a difference in how my thighs look!  They appear to be a little smaller!  (And definietly firmer!)

To give you a little history.  I have ALWAYS had big thighs.  My mom always complains about her "skinny legs" she has small calves.  Mine are bigger (more on this later).  

My mom is also a pear shape, so she carries most of her weight in her hips and thighs, and she is small on top.  She was a skinny minnie in her youth (18 inch waist!) and is "bigger" as a woman in her 60s at size 6-8. 

I missed the boat on her body shape and inherited some parts from her and more from my dad's side.  I got the big boobs, flat butt from them, but I missed the no hips part and picked up hips, big thighs and big arms from my mom's side.

So by the time I hit puberty, then more comments on my big thighs. I remeber my dad commenting "you have thighs like you mom!"  I said what does that mean...and he had no comment.  I eventually figured it out.

By the time middle school/shigh school rolled around, finding pants was alway hard.  I always just had to go up a size to fit my "thunder thighs."  They were always pretty solid, just bigger.

One time, a guy told me that my legs were akin to drumsticks.  And herein lies the other problem with my legs.  I have big thighs and small calves (in relationship) and skinny ankles!  So yes, they look like drumsticks.  :(

  • Highest measurement for my thighs ever: 27 inches
  • Highest measurment for my calves ever: 16.5 inches 

Right now, my calves are their max potential.  At the point they were their biggest, and least toned, I didn'twalk much.  This lasted for a few months and once I left the suburbs, they returned to their usual size.

Since then, they have been hovering 15.5 inches, even when I was at my heaviest.  My calves just don't really gain weight.  I think they look great now, and I know no matter how much I lose, I won't be finding knee high boots easily ever. I think at their smallest they were 15.25 inches. So my calves are at goal!  :D

At my highest weight my calves were 11.5 inches smaller than my thighs.  So I am hoping along the way, with 200 squats and whatever other challenge I come up with, my calves and thighs get within, how about 8 inches of each other!  This would be my dream goal: no more drumstick legs!  

They are on their way now.  In 2 more weeks I'll post some final measurements.

And for you other women with my problem of big thighs?  You should definitely get on the squat bandwagon.  Or even if your thighs aren't big.  It will still help.  :D


A day of NSVs

I had a couple of NSVs (non-scale victory) today, so I thought I'd share them in a post:

  1. New high weight on the lat pulldown machine: 110 pounds.  Just a few weeks ago, I was at 80 pounds
  2. New distance record on the rower: 3500M.  I'll be at 5000 meters in no time
  3. More stamina on the walk home from the gym.  I ended up walking home after stopping at the grocery store after my workout to pick up a few dinner provisions.  The walk home from the Market is a little under a mile, up a gradually increasing hill.  The last 3 blocks are the steepest.  Usually I feel a little winded about halfway through the walk, but today I didn't get even get winded until the last (and steepest block).  Even though I was carrying my heavy grocery bag!
  4. It is time to retire my first pair of workout pants.  The capri tights I have are now too baggy and don't really stay up.  Old Navy here I come!  

And I figured out my next reward: a new Oaklandish t-shirt.  Full disclosure, I don't really wear t-shirts much, since I think they make me look younger and people start thinking I am in college or something, so I don't really wear them.  I love Oaklandish tees since I have Oakland pride, and they have tons of great designs.  I figure this is a great shirt to wear on my spring trip to NYC.  Not only is it spring-y and cheerful, but I live a block away from the mural this shirt is inspired by.  So I really should represent my neighborhood.  (Or I guess the freeway entrace, since the mural is on the pillar to the freeway.)  :)

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